June 21, 2018
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Teen has new appreciation of Mom

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

As a parent there are things you either know, hope or suspect you will never say to your child.

And things they probably know, hope or suspect they will never hear you say.

For example, I’m pretty sure my nearly 15-year-old son has figured out that he’ll never hear me or his father say, “Son, here is that sports car you’ve been wanting. Take her for a drive.”

I believe he’s come to terms with that.

Likewise his father and I have accepted that we will never be in a position to give him all the material things he is sure would clearly improve his life – things that would surely bump up his coolness factor – nor do we want to.

But I think I came pretty darn close this week to actually being, if only for a moment, a bonafide bragworthy mother to my hormones-raging teenage son.

Sure, he’s proud of the work I do at the Bangor Humane Society, sort of, and there are times I might write a column he finds worthy of reading, but I’m honestly not much to brag about in the high school hallway.

Like him, I’ve come to terms with that.

Just this week as I pulled up to drop three teenagers off in front of the school, he leaned forward from the back seat and said, “Could you please turn down the radio before we get out?”

God forbid that the students walking by be subjected to a second or two of the classic rock ‘n’ roll that his mother was listening to.

But then came Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, after school, he lumbered by the office toward his bedroom, seemingly burdened by a heavy backpack and the tumultuous world of a teenage boy.

“Hey,” he mumbled at me.

“Hey,” I said back.

“I need to get on the computer to do some homework.”

“I’ll be right off,” I said , “Just doing a little research for my column.”

“What are you writing about?” he asked while fiddling with his iPod and doing a poor job of pretending he cared or was even listening.

“Oh just a young woman I know who has been selected to be the June Playmate for Playboy magazine.”


See? Right there. That is something I would have suspected I would never have said to my teenage boy and I can guarantee something he never suspected to have ever heard me say.

What ensued was true testament to just how quickly a teenage boy’s mood can swing from pure ambivalence to unequivocal giddiness.

His interest in current events was heightened. He suddenly felt a keen connection to my work.

In case you missed it, 27-year-old Mei-Ling Lam of Clinton (but also of Newport) was recently selected to be Playboy’s Miss June.

She is the first playmate from Maine.

I’ve known her since she was just a beautiful child, toddling around the Hawaiian Paradise restaurant that her parents, George and Paula Lam, owned in Newport.

I worked there part time when I was just a young correspondent in the BDN’s Pittsfield bureau.

Mei-Ling grew up in that Route 2 restaurant. In December she was hanging around the Playboy mansion chatting with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner about Maine weather.

I haven’t seen her for many, many years. The last time I did she was still calling me “Nay” as she had since she was 2 years old.

She’s a beautiful and smart young woman.

She comes from a good, hard-working and supportive family.

She “is comfortable in her own skin.”

Her morality, her ethics and her intentions will surely be questioned by readers who disagree with her decision to pose nude.

That’s OK. They have the right to have their say – I’m betting she’s tough enough to handle it – and so is her mother.

Meanwhile, yesterday morning my son, in his most respectful and serious voice, suggested that perhaps we should invite the Lam family for dinner. He’s always thinking of others, that son of mine.

In preparation for this column I dashed into Borders recently and picked up the current issue of Playboy. I hadn’t seen one in a decade or two and wanted to get an idea of what a 21st century playmate spread was like.

I was a bit sheepish, I admit. It was, after all, the first “dirty magazine” I’d ever bought.

I get to the register to pay and find the only cashier on hand is Bangor City Councilor Charles Longo, whom I’ve interviewed face to face on occasion. He didn’t seem to remember me. I pretended I didn’t know him. He flipped the magazine over after he rang it up and said, “I’ll just put this in a nice little baggy for you. Well, that’s if you want a bag?”

I hesitated, squared my shoulders, grabbed the magazine and said, “Nah, I’m fine. I don’t need a bag.”

When my son came home from school he spotted the magazine on my desk.

He dashed off to a friend’s house giddy that it was a Friday and 60 degrees outside.

“I can’t wait to tell my friends that my mom buys Playboy,” he yelled as he thundered down the stairs.

See? There it is. That’s something I never suspected I would hear my teenage boy say.

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